Conscious Parenting: Accepting Our Children As They Are
“In seeking to restore an experience of oneness between your children and yourself, the path leads by way of the discovery of communion with your own forgotten self. This is the case because establishing a meaningful partnership with your children will inevitably cause you to attend to the development of your own authentic being.
As your growing awareness disintegrates the parent-child hierarchy, it will spontaneously equalize the playing field in your family. Moving away from egoic behavior- surrendering your opinions of how situations ‘ought’ to be, and how people ‘should’ act- will allow you to step off your pedestal of dominance.” ~ Shefali Tsabary, Phd, author “The Conscious Parent”
Often we get so stuck in our roles as “mom” or “dad”, that we forget what it truly means to be a parent. We create an image in our minds of what it means to play the roles of mother or father, and consequently we take the authenticity out of the moments we spend with our children. We are so busy playing the part, that we forget to savor the beauty of the time we spend with them.
Since our children are younger, and know less about the world than we do, it’s easy for us to buy into the illusion that it is only us that is teaching them, rather than realizing that they are teaching us as much as we are teaching them. A hierarchy gets established.
An underlying feeling of, “I am the parent, they are MY child. I tell them what to do, how to live, how to be, and ultimately mold them into what I want them to be or what I believe will make them happiest, most successful and well-rounded” begins to be the motivating force behind our actions as a parent.
However, what many parents fail to realize, or often forget over time, is that our children are not our possessions. They are not our little living dolls to make become whatever we think they should be. Our children are called forth from us to teach us about ourselves.
If we only focus on molding our children into what we want them to be by using forms of control, power, manipulation and discipline we run the risk of denying our children the right to be who they truly are.
The child who is denied the ability to be able to be his own self, and accept his own self for what he truly is, becomes the adult who often is disconnected from their own hearts and starts to try and live the life everyone else wants them to live. Then this child has children and you can see how the cycle begins.
It seems the biggest challenge we have as parents is defining the boundaries between being a good role model, a person who embodies all the qualities we wish for our children to emulate. While at the same time not denying our children’s own personal spirit to the point that they abandon themselves to become the person we want them to be, or worse, they rebel against everything we say and play out the role of the “troubled child” in order to teach us the meaning of unconditional love.
In order to establish the most effective and authentic relationship with our children, one that allows us to be able to be our best self and for them to be able to be their own best and authentic selves, we must first and foremost tend to the relationship with ourselves and our own heart.
“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
The more rooted in our own awareness we become and the more we challenge our own limited beliefs about society and life, the better our relationship with our children becomes. Instead of operating off of the belief that our child must be this or that, or play this sport, or get these grades, or look this way in order to be “worthy” or “valuable”, we begin to accept our children exactly as they are.
Because we begin practicing unconditional love to our own hearts, we consequently create the space for our children to celebrate their own unique traits and attributes which allows them to flourish into their own best version of themselves. Point blank, a happy and well rounded child, young adult and adult is the child who is taught to love himself.
A child that is taught to adore and be proud of the strange little quirks that make them who they are is the recipe for the adult who is confident and independent.
The child that feels free to be himself without fear of disappointing the parent or angering them for simply being who they are becomes the adult who openly accepts not only himself and his path, but more readily accepts others for who they are. Now of course, parenting won’t always be easy. There will be times when our children challenge us, and go against our rules, or maybe even get in trouble.
Instead of disciplining from the standpoint of control and exerting power, the conscious parent sees these behaviors as a cry for help. The troubled child isn’t getting in trouble because he is a “bad” kid, he is only showing us that there is something they are not loving about themselves.
Because the child doesn’t know how to go about getting our attention or how to love and nurture themselves, they often unconsciously act out “bad” behavior in order to bring attention to this.
Often parents will start labeling the child the “bad” one, the “troublemaker”, or the “delinquent”, but what they are not realizing is that the child will live up to our expectations of them. If our expectation bar has been set low, they will only go as far as the bar has been set.
Instead of focusing on the details of the “bad” behavior, focus on the child’s relationship with his own self, mainly the good things about the child rather than what the child has done “wrong”, we give the child the tools to be able to love his own self through adversity.
When the child can love and nurture themselves, and forgive themselves for making mistakes and learn from the mistakes they make, they begin to establish a trust within themselves that is invaluable. The unconditional love we show for ourselves, spills over to our children which allows them to feel free.
“Love your children, but never hope through them.” ~ Osho
The beauty of conscious parenting is that it happens naturally as a result of getting in touch with our own awareness, and loving and healing our own inner child. The more rooted in love and acceptance of our own selves we become, we automatically begin to heal the relationship with our children.
Parenting and being a good parent isn’t about being perfect. The most important thing we can show our children is that we are authentic. It’s not about having all the right answers, or being a “super-hero” mom or dad that does no wrong, it’s more about teaching our children that we are all, imperfectly perfect.
By looking at our children as our little spiritual gurus that have been called forth from us to teach us about life or to remind us of the magic in our own selves that we may have left in childhood, an amazing spiritual partnership gets established. They teach us and we teach them.